Mental Health Stigmas

Mental Health Stigmas – What Can we do to Change the Stigma?

I never want to repeat a blog post, so from time to time, I go through past blog posts. I realized I have talked recently about the stigma that surrounds mental health. What I talk about is that there is a responsibility that mental health bloggers face. It up to us in the mental illness community writing blogs to fight the stigma.

What does that mean?

It means showing people that it is not “weird” or “wrong” to have a mental illness. When I see a person on a television show portraying a mental illness its always as a crazy person. The people we see on the news that shoot up a movie theater, they’re still labeled as crazy. But to me, that doesn’t represent those of us in this struggle. We have to show the real sides of mental illness and offer what we have learned through any means we can. For me, it is writing this blog, my memoir, and my screenplay.

Being Bipolar is who I am, and it is here that I find my strength to fight.

We do this through sharing our experiences with the world. When we make what we have been through relatable to a reasonable person it changes their perspective. Even better is when we can reach those of us who are not sure about what their new diagnosis means. Reaching those who are struggling to fight unknown depression is the ultimate goal. The beginning of a mental illness journey can see he wrought with misinformation.

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What mental health stigma’s do is damage to those trying to seeking help. As human beings, it is natural for us to be afraid of what we don’t understand. It is the scariest thing to think that depression has taken over your life. In my own experience, I always thought depression meant I was outside of ordinary people. I was never really healthy. I see it a lot of the people that write to me. The most common thing I get is this.

 “James, I was so afraid of what I am living through that I have shut myself off to the world. It‘s easier sometimes to hide. But your blog has given me hope.”

It saddens me because I was like that in the beginning and for many of the years that followed. I was a part of the problem because I gave into the fear. In the first three years of my diagnosis, I wouldn’t even admit to myself that there was something wrong with me. I was afraid of the “crazy” label that I saw so often for people that have a mental illness. (This will be the only time I will use crazy in that context.)

The truth is, you’re not crazy. Yes, there is a likelihood that something wrong with you. But, that’s not a bad thing. Your brain works differently than healthy people. It‘s a fact, but I see it now as the reason why I am here today. My mind doesn’t work right, but I am still a writer. Don’t let people tell you that it is wrong to have a mental illness.

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An average person could never understand. When I would go from the deepest and darkest depression one day, to completely manic the next day. It‘s not normal. At the same time, it is who I am. They would never be able to tell me how it feels to be Bipolar. When you live it every day, it gives you insight.

There are the experts and what would we do without them? It clear that we need them in our lives. I can attest to what having a therapist has done in my life. But the role of a therapist or a psychiatrist is to help the individual, not the stigma. They can help you be less afraid to tell your story, but can they fight the stigma like we could? I really believe it is up to us to change the mind of the world.

It makes me angry when someone tells a person with a mental illness to “get over it.” It always made me feel down. If it’s was possible to turn off my depression I would do it in a heartbeat. I would spend days or weeks in bed and feel the world judging me. It wrong for me to feel that way, but being Bipolar felt like a curse. I will tell you now that it’s not.

It was worse as a teenager for me. I hid my depression cycles from everyone with masks and fake smiles. I went through the motions of life so much as a teenager that it became the standard in my life. My depression got worse because, when I would come out of a depression cycle I thought I was normal again. I was never normal. If I had realized that and got help as a teen, I could have gotten better sooner.

I hope it doesn’t seem as if I regret my life. It‘s quite the opposite. What I mean when I say I could have gotten better sooner, this is what I mean. It was three years before I said: “I am Bipolar and I need to do something about it.”

It was another two or three years before I started to move on with my life. I went back to school and sought help with a therapist. It was still two years ago before I could talk about my issues. It was a slow process to get to what has become my blog. My mental health only started to get to a reasonable level the last two years. I have to wade through years of not working on my issues.

It took me years of reflection to get here, a right place with my anxiety and depression. I went through three terrible years of non-stop depression and anxiety before I made changes in my attitude. I was so afraid of what being Bipolar meant to the outside world that it made things worse. I gave into the fear of being Bipolar for so long.

I rejected help for so many years that by the time I got my reality check I had so many issues. It’s that fear that I often look at to the reasons why my social anxiety and depression spirals every winter. I put myself through so much not believing in the medication prescribed to me. I thought my doctors were wrong.

Now I fight every day. To educate ordinary people with my experiences. I live to help others like me find peace in this world of chaos. I tell people every day to keep fighting. That the most important thing is to seek help and believe in that help.

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We start a discussion so that one day a young teenager or a young adult will never have the label. That horrible label of being crazy. Or the label that having a mental illness is a “pre-existing condition.” We have to fight for the world to recognize that mental illnesses are a real thing.

My last point in this overly long blog post is this. We have to write for the future people coming into the mental illness community. We fight the good fight. Share our experiences with one another and with the world. We will get to a point where the stigma of having a mental illness will never even exist. People will get the help they need without fear.

Always Keep Fighting.

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J.E. Skye

 

Please Help me Publish my Memoir

I have finished the first draft of my memoir “The Bipolar Writer,” and I have decided to go down the self-publishing route. If you can donate anything towards my goal, it would mean the world to me. Those that give will get a special mention in my memoir on a page dedicated to those that made my memoir possible. Thank you in advance!

$5.00

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoSteve Halama

unsplash-logoBekir Dönmez

unsplash-logoTom Pumford

unsplash-logoSweet Ice Cream Photography

unsplash-logoMorvanic Lee

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51 Replies to “Mental Health Stigmas”

  1. Great post on stigma, James! I wrote a post yesterday on stigma I experienced at work, where I ended up losing my job. And I was stable at the time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very wonderful and much-needed post on mental health stigma! I have struggled with depression and anxiety most of my life. I have found the right meds and have been stable for several years. I wholeheartedly agree that those of us with mental health issues need to be viewed in a more positive light and accepted as normal people who have an added challenge in life, and we really aren’t all that different. Thank you for speaking out!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sharing and being honest is definitely a medicine/therapy for the writer and reader! It’s SO important. It’s what gives hope and understanding in a way nothing else quite can. It’s difficult to live and cope in this world free of some degree of mental illness, and discussing it and putting it out there helps others see this and understand themselves more!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Your blog posts are so inspiring, Well done! Even those who suffer with the occasional aniexty attack like me find it hard to talk to people about it as who knows what they might say right? Just because we sometimes feel anxious or down why should we be ashamed to talk about it, We shouldn’t is the right answer but today’s society means we are. Having worked in a secure childrens home I’ve had a lot of experience of working with girls who never had anyone to talk to and let their mental health spiral out of control and it was so sad. Keep writing because you are helping people I am 100% sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I agree with everything you said here. It’s sad that the girls you work with never had anyone to talk about their mental health. That’s the biggest thing. They push it aside and it spirals. I will keep writing as always because this is what needs to be talked about. Thank you so much for reading my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t imagine having mental illness before the very late 1900’s. People were put in mental institutions with no treatments, just locked up, or shock treatments. At least now we have hope, therapists, and medication, meditation, etc.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Great post! The need to help educate people and help end the stigma of mental illness is a huge part of the reason I started my own blog talking about the same things. It’s so great to see so many other people trying like we are! Like you said – always keep fighting!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very well done mate. As a bipolar patient and blogger myself I find you are right in saying that what we portray needs to be positive. Give an insight into what our challenges are to break down the barriers of ignorance and apathy

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks, I’ll keep this in my mind when I write. I think I have been a bit too irresponsible so far, but it really just take over some time and there is nothing you can really do.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, we fight. Sadly, even I as a person with depression, look down on people with other mental problems. As if having only depression is better than having bipolar. It’s not on purpose but I catch myself sometimes thinking it /subconsciously/ perhaps defence mechanisms. I try to change my opinion first to be able to change others’.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We fight. It’s time for us to step out of the shadows and show that we are not the way we are portrayed in the media, movies, television shows, or in all the stereotypes that people have been taught for all these years.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It is 2018 and it saddens me that we are still fighting the stigma and that most people aren’t properly taught about mental health. It baffles me. I refuse to accept the stigma and flat out shame and call people out on it. It is like being sexist, or racist, I refuse to allow it on my watch.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you so much for this post. I grew up with a family member with mental illness. Seeing how he struggled with stigma through his life has always inspired me to speak up and encourage anyone who needs it to get help.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Makes me wonder…some illnesses we use to define us. People become cancer survivors, or asthmatics. We may add drug addiction or anaphylaxis to our identity. The more harmful or impacting the illness, the deeper it becomes part of us. Where should we draw the line though? It’s wise not to go running if you have a heart condition. It’s a good idea not to ignore the impact of anxiety if you are thinking about law school. But where do we draw the line? Where does being open about mental health end, and needless negativity begin? I’m not trying to be judgemental, and I know all too well the power of mental illness. But the conversation needs to be had. What is the place of mental illness in our identity?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There will always be negativity. The mental health stigma is based on the fact that people think those of us with a mental illness can “get over it.” They make the reality seem not real. I honestly think the negativity is good for the conversation because it means we are making the truth be heard. I personally believe being Bipolar is a part of my identity and I am proud that through my struggles, I am still here fighting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess my question about identity is a part of the conversation around treatment too- I know people who refuse medication because it would tamper with their identity. But for some people this makes life difficult to manage. If there was ever to be a ‘cure’ for Bipolar, would you take it? Would you still be yourself with that part of your being removed?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If there was a cure yes. I wouldn’t hesitate. I would still have my experiences so yes it will still be a part of me even with a cure. People that go into remission still have the history.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I guess you’re talking about the beauty of scars – that they serve as a reminder of our journey. And maybe that’s what we need to be mindful of when linking illness to identity. It’s not great to be ‘Depressed Gail’ or ‘Bipolar Tim,’ both to others and ourselves. But we should be ‘Gail who was depressed and fought it with courage and resolve’, or ‘Tim who has Bipolar, and works hard every day to be Tim the artist, Tim the carpenter, father and husband,’ Celebrate the work people put in, acknowledge the illness?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I would still consider myself The Bipolar Writer. It’s my identity because that is who I am. I am in both worlds. Unfortunately there is lot a cure. We are living with the reality of mental illness. Even if I got a cure I would still be The Bipolar Writer because it is a part of me. That to me is my identity.

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  13. Thank you for laying all of this out here. I love the honesty of your posts and this honestly taught me a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Each time we share our story it becomes easier to tell it again. Each time we read a story it helps us know we are not alone. I started my campaign to find ways to get people to share their stories. It is a great release to share what you are maybe afraid of. We will never end the stigma if we do not stop being part of the stigma. I understand the fear of not disclosing stems from stigma.This has become a viscous cycle that we need to break. Please help me out. I know I have asked you before but I have not heard back from you so I am sorry to ask you again. If you can’t to do it I understand. I just thought I would try again because I would love to have you participate. Your story can be very short or one you used before. Nothing fancy unless you want it to be. I was wondering and hoping you would be interested in sharing your story to include as part of my mental health campaign to increase awareness and end stigma. I know your story would be a fabulous addition to my feature. Here is a link that explains it – https://myloudbipolarwhispers.com/2018/05/01/i-need-you-please-help-me-with-my-new-project-our-story-is-our-glory/  You don’t have to participate, if you are not comfortable or too busy etc. No pressure and no rush. Your story can be one you wrote before or as long or short as you would like. Thank you and have a fabulous day. Much love and hugs, Sue

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  15. I started my campaign in honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month. I started it on May 1st and have posted one story per day during the month of May. I am looking for all stories. All stories are educational and inspirational. You can just write a brief introduction, your darkest days and what helped you the most and how you are doing today. Anyone who is reading this can participate. Just send me a comment to myloudbipolarwhispers.com I hope you will want to join our campaign and fight the stigma of mental illness. Stigma must end. Thank you and have a fabulous day.

    Liked by 1 person

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